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Posted on May 17, 2013 in Dear Diary, Fashion, Food | 4 comments

Under the Moon

Haaaappy Friday! I’m still recovering from the emotional trauma that was back-to-backing the Vampire Diaries season finale (WHAT THE WHAT?!) and The Office SERIES finale (all the sads), so I thought I’d post something light and fun today. It’s aaaaalmost like a Fashion Friday post, except instead of me awkwardly posing for you all, all the fashion you’ll see in today’s post is still firmly on their hangers.

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Last night I had the opportunity to attend an event at the South Moon Under store in Merrifield’s new Mosaic District. If you’re local and haven’t been to Mosaic yet, by the way, you need to get there STAT. It’s awesome — every week I feel like there’s some new hip trendy something-or-other opening up. Someone give me a floppity jillion dollars so I can afford an apartment there, k?

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The event was a special Rebecca Minkoff trunk show being hosted by the Real Housewives of Northern Virginia blog.

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Alas, I didn’t win any of the exclusive Rebecca Minkoff handbags they were giving away, but I did get to look at pretty clothes, nosh on some snacks, and hobnob with some local fashion bloggers, so that was fun! Bloggers also got a little swag bag at the end, which was a super nice touch.

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And, of course, because I am physically incapable of walking away from a sale (they were offering everything in the store 20% off during the event), I did end up making a couple purchases of my own.

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I debated for a long time between the lion head earrings and the elephant earrings, before ultimately deciding to get my elephant on. They’re so cute! I also picked up a pair of sassy combat boots that will be making an appearance before long, at which point you can tell me if I’m pulling them off at all… or if I’m just deluding myself, hahaha.

A fun night! I feel like this weekend is going to end up being very well-rounded, actually. Last night I got my dose of fashion and whatnot, and tonight I’m shooting photos for a classical concert series. Look at me, so cultured! Now, if I can just squeeze in some time to see the new Star Trek movie, I’ll have it made in the shade.

Have a great weekend!

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Posted on Dec 13, 2011 in Dear Diary | 32 comments

Mall Madness

Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the epic circa-1996 (or 1989, depending on which version we’re talking about) board game.


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No, I’m talking about the intense, mind-blowing madness that is Tysons Corner during the month of December. Steve and I (we are friends now — hooray for progress!) were set on braving the crowds last night to do some Christmas shopping.

Santa's Closed
Uhhh.

Well, we would have braved the crowds, that is, had there been any. I honestly was predicting mayhem and madness, but it turns out even in December the mall is pretty dead at 8:30 on a Monday night. In fact, the only thing that was actually crazy were the deals! (Ba-doom ching!)

FREE PUPPY?!
Unfortunately, the deals weren’t crazy enough to get me an actual puppy. Stupid fine print.

See, when our family does Christmas, we do it BIG, and I’m trying not to let my financial situation put a damper on things. Speak of the debt thing, actually, I have an update on that front: As of last week, I have officially paid off my credit card debt! Daxter’s hospital visit threw an unfortunate wrench in my debt-clearing goals (to have both my credit cards paid off and my dad paid back by the end of the year). Thanks to my very patient and generous Papa, however, I’ve at least got those little plastic temptresses under control!


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Ne’er shall I carry a balance again! (Er, I hope.)

Right, so… what was I talking about again? Oh right, spending more money. Ha! I mean… it is still Christmas, you know. I’m trying to be very conscious of my budget, while still coming up with fun, personal gifts. So I’ve been deal-shopping, sales-shopping, and perusing Pinterest for ideas. I think that I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far!

Christmas Shopping
Success!

And okay, I’ll admit right here and now that I wasn’t able to refrain COMPLETELY from buying some things for myself. Fact: wearing a too-big coat makes you look too big too (say that 5x fast!), and feeling frumpalicious during cookie season is not so good for the self-esteem. Also fact: coats are crazy on sale at Old Navy right now! I did, however, abstain from some of the more ridiculous awesome stuff I wanted.

Herro Tree!
Be proud of me for walking away from this. It was rough.

So all in all, it was a successful shopping trip! Also, a successful continuation of my Instagram self-tutelage, as you can see. I still have three family members left to get gifts for (two human, one canine) but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

What’s your holiday shopping strategy? Are you an early bird, with your presents all wrapped up by December 1st? Or a last-minute gifter? An online-shopper or an in-store bargain hunter? Last year, I had almost 100% of my Christmas shopping done by Cyber Monday, all thanks to Amazon. This year, I’m running on a much later schedule, with a few gifts that I’ve purchased online but I’ve had to do a lot of shopping in-person to get ideas! Oogh, the stress!

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Posted on Oct 25, 2011 in Dear Diary | 53 comments

The Worst Four Letter Word

I have what one might call an indulgent personality.

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Er, to say the least.

While we already know where that particular personality trait (flaw?) has landed me when it comes to the food side of things (does 246 lbs ring a bell?), what I don’t often touch on is how being self-indulgent has affected other areas of my life. I don’t like to talk about finances because I come from a very fiscally responsible family, and it’s embarrassing to admit how far I let myself slide. But hey, I figure if I can post pictures of myself at my highest weight in a bikini on here, I should be able to openly discuss what is probably the most taboo term in the Powell household: credit card debt.

Credit Card Tombstone
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I’ve talked about my issues with disordered eating many times over. What many people may not initially realize, however, is that beyond the physical, emotional, and mental toll that binge eating takes on a person, it takes a huge financial toll as well. After all, it’s not like “binge food” was an item on my grocery list. No, instead I would drop $15 a pop at drive-thru windows (give yourself a second to calculate just how much fast food $15 can buy), charging pizzas and chinese delivery to my credit cards, and the costs, just like my weight, simply continued to rise.

Mo' money, mo' problems

Of course, while I spent a lot of money on food, that wasn’t the only culprit for my unabashed spending. Unfortunately, gluttony begets gluttony, and it isn’t just reserved for things of a culinary nature. Once I was out of college and making my own money, food therapy ceased to be enough to fill the emotional void on its own. Between going a little crazy with my holiday gift-giving and my obsessions with Sephora, pedicures, and designer shoes I never actually wear… Well, suffice it to say, retail therapy became the name of the game.

Footish
Yes, you’re reading that insole correctly. These have gotten one wear. ONE.

Seeing several of my fellow bloggers be so honest about their sordid financial histories convinced me to do the same. After all, I’ve always said that honesty is what you get here whether you like it or not, haha. So I’m going to stop beating around the bush: I accumulated over $6,000 in personal credit card debt before I could even begin to admit that it had become a problem. It’s okay, family. You can judge.

Now, I realize that compared to the kinds of debt that many others are dealing with, $6K may be a mere drop in the bucket. That being said, I hope that everyone realizes that carrying ANY credit card debt from month-to-month is too much. After all, we’re not talking school loans or mortgages here. This is not good debt. This is you’re-throwing-your-money-away-kind of debt. This is the kind of debt that comes back to get you. And I can tell you now from personal experience that being stressed over credit card debt is not exactly what I would call a boon to weight loss.

I'mma getchu!

Fortunately, not too long after I made the decision to salvage my physical health, I resolved to do something about my rapidly declining financial health as well. Unfortunately, life did not take a break while I was getting to that point. In order to leave my horrible, soul-crushing post-college job, I actually had to pay the company in order to quit before my 2-year contract was up (can I get a “WTF?”). Daxter had a life-threatening accident when he was 14-weeks-old, putting him in the doggy ICU for three exorbitantly expensive days (and of course, I hadn’t gotten pet insurance yet. Fail.) My father generously loaned me some money to help me out in the interim, so that’s an entirely different debt that I’m working towards paying off.

While these things may have slowed down my progress slightly, I am still moving forward. Er, downward. My credit score is still high, since I have never defaulted or had a late payment, and I’m continuing to whittle down at the balance I owe. It’s taken a while, but over the past eight months I’ve managed to reduce my credit card debt by two-thirds. By the end of 2011, barring any surprises, I should be free & clear of all non-mortgage debt (holy crap, just typing that out feels amazing!) And that’s all in spite of my lingering penchant for purchasing unnecessarily expensive things, haha.

Froofy
Because we all know they aren’t buying their own sweaters and designer dog beds.

Okay, okay. I jest, but believe it or not I really am trying harder than ever to stick to an actual budget and watch my spending. I use Mint.com to track my purchases and accounts, and have the app on my phone as well. I’m also tracking my debts and payments in an Excel spreadsheet to make sure I am not overspending the funds that I need to keep in my checking account for things like, oh, my third of the mortgage. But it’s difficult. Not only is it hard to restrain myself from spending mindlessly, but it is challenging to maintain my healthy lifestyle while on a budget. Eating locally, organically, and/or healthily is relatively expensive. Race registrations are expensive. And let’s not even get started on my sushi requirement. I know that I don’t really NEED to buy organic apples or new running shoes or my own juicer, but it doesn’t mean I don’t WANT those things. And that whole indulgent personality thing? It just makes it hard to tell myself “no”.

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I’m working on it.

Do you feel that a tendency to overindulge when it comes to food sets you up to overindulge when it comes to spending? Please don’t feel pressured to share, but if you feel comfortable doing so, I’d be so, so interested to hear from others who are going through or have gone through anything similar when it comes to debt.

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Posted on Oct 13, 2011 in Dear Diary, Weight Loss | 78 comments

Stuck in the Middle with You

Unfortunately this post is not about the classic 1972 Stealers Wheel song. It’s about clothes. And yes, it’s probably going to get pretty superficial up in hurr. I find myself stuck in this strange middle ground between the size I am and the size I plan on getting to. I am stuck in Clothing No (wo)Man’s Land.

The wedding I went to this past weekend made me painfully aware that I am rapidly running out of wearable clothing. I know what you’re thinking. “Waaaah, waaaah, poor little Gretchen has lost too much weight and now has no clothes to wear,” said in your most sardonic mental voice (sidenote: does that sound like the start of a twisted nursery rhyme or what?) I mean, yes, you’re right. It’s not like I’m going naked here. I’ve got enough cutesy t-shirts to last me a millenium or two, but when it comes to A) work or B) dressing up, it is slim pickings in terms of clothes that I feel comfortable and (or?) attractive in. But while I’m not a size 20 anymore, I’m still a bit short of my goal size (an Old Navy 8, or a 10 anywhere else, haha.) So I keep struggling with whether I should buy new clothes that will fit me now, knowing that I will just shrink out of them (well, hopefully…), or whether I should wait.

See, I am very much of the opinion that, as much as I want to save money, clothes that are too big just don’t look good. One of the first myths I adhered to when I was obese was thinking that big, roomy clothes would hide my flub. WRONG. They just made me look even bigger. Which, in turn, just made me more depressed. Thus, part of this whole rebuilding my formerly devastated self-esteem thingย is to try to feel good about the way I look. That might sound shallow but… well, if it is, then we are ALL shallow, aren’t we? ๐Ÿ˜‰

To illustrate my point, I traveled into the depths of my closet to find a few pieces of now-oversized clothing that haven’t quite made the trip to Goodwill yet (I say as if the other four grocery bags full of too-big clothes aren’t still sitting in my car. Oops.) Allow me to present the following comparisons:

Blouse + Pants Front View

Oof.

Blouse + Pants Side View

These portraits were taken mere minutes apart, but you can’t deny how different I look. The pants and top on the left are two sizes too big, and there’s no doubt that they make me look bigger too. Of course it isn’t always as blatantly obvious as the example above, but it’s the smallest things — a droopy sleeve, a billowing bust, a puffy waist — that make a big difference in how you look (and thus impact how you FEEL about how you look.)

Dress for Success

Take, for example, the dress on the left here. At first glance, it’s really not so bad.

Dress Side View

Turn to the side, however, and you can see just how gaping the bust is, making my chest look droopy. Dangling ta-tas at 23? I DON’T THINK SO. And the side-bra view? Not cute.

I’m not saying that you should get rid of all your clothes as soon as you outshrink them. Nor do you have to rush your favorite pieces to a tailor right away. As if I could afford either option! There are a lot of things that you can do to make your clothing wearable for as long as possible.

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Bad + belt = better.

Belts and I have become besties, and scarves and cardigans are part of the gang too (to hide those pesky safety pins!) My closet is still full of clothing that I can’t yet bear to give away (um, like all the above pieces?) One of my biggest “regrets”, if you want to call it that, is that TWO WEEKS before I decided to start this blog and go on my final diet, I went to New York City with some girlfriends and blew over $500 on new clothes. Of course, within 3 months, they were rendered obsolete. Which might explain my current clothes-buying hesitation situation, now that I think about it.

Flatter Me
Same jeans, different tops.

I definitely feel that certain items of clothing “matter” more than others when it comes to fit and feeling good about yourself. For example, I see absolutely no reason to downsize my coats, sweaters/cardigans, jackets, and even skirts (A-line being the exception) since for the most part, it doesn’t matter if they are a bit big. But jeans, work pants, dresses and blouses are what I seem to notice most. Oh, and don’t forget about undergarments. Getting my bra resized is one of the things I was most adamant about!

I’m not trying to replace my wardrobe just yet — I’ve got a shopping spree from my parents (my blogiversary present!) for that! It’s just that as I continue down this road and get rid of these last twenty-ish pounds, I want to make sure I’m doing all that I can to stay motivated, in control, and most importantly, happy.

What is your stance on buying clothes when losing weight? Save up and wait? Pick up sale & thrift items as needed? Or replace your closet as you downsize?

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Posted on May 24, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 19 comments

Dream Big

Guess where I went last night?

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Got it? How ’bout now?

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Okay, okay, how about now?

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Yep! Shopping trip to Target (Tarjayyyy), aka my favorite place evaaaar. I went with my brother and his girlfriend to pick up a few things and decided to play a game of “How I would decorate my house if I had more money”:

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Like with square white plates.

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And antique-y bathroom accessories.

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And who doesn’t want to own a cupcake tower?

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Or have decorative glass apothecary jars all over the place for no reason other than that they’re pretty?

Too bad my taste would without a doubt break the bank…

Don't break the bank

Heh.

I also tried my hand at Target-style grocery shopping, since you may have been noticing the distinct lack of veg in yesterday’s Daily Eats post. Well, that’s because I, once again, need to go grocery shopping. Thus:

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Romaine lettuce, green beans, frozen peas & broc.

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Strawbs, nanners, and whole wheat Sandwich Thins.

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Cinnamon pecan (!!) Special K, 2 boxes of Luna bars.

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Cottage cheese, beans, corn, and a just-in-case Annie’s lasagna dinner. And then there’s the piece de resistance…

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… smoked salmon dip. I can’t wait to smother a pita with this or something. Mmmm. All in all I s’pose it was a successful trip (successful for Target, that is. I always end up buying way more than I set out to at this store!) but I will admit that unless you rely heavily on frozen and pre-packaged foods, doing your grocery shopping at Target is not the way to go. Their produce is pretty meh, although I found a couple of things that looked okay, and I don’t think you’re getting a particularly good value out of it (other than that you can complete your grocery shopping along with your regular shopping, I guess.)

Got a favorite superstore? I’m all ears! Target’s a personal fave, but I keep feeling like I should just get a Costco membership already. 5 people living in one house makes toilet paper and paper towels quite the commodity, you know!

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